Former Suffolk University president Margaret McKenna began mediation Monday with representatives from the school’s board of trustees over her firing in late July, according to people with direct knowledge of the negotiations.

The trustees abruptly fired McKenna after she served a year as president. They did not reveal the reason for her dismissal, saying it was a confidential personnel matter. McKenna immediately called the firing unfair and, without elaborating, said she planned to pursue mediation.

Reached Monday evening by phone, McKenna declined to discuss the mediation or what is on the table, saying it is confidential by nature.

McKenna is reportedly not seeking money but governance reforms for the school, said a person close to McKenna who was not authorized to speak publicly about the mediation. It is unclear if or when the mediation will continue.


McKenna’s firing came after a tumultuous six months that began in late January when some trustees attempted to remove McKenna and replace her with former state attorney general Martha Coakley.

The trustees accused McKenna of financial mismanagement and abrasive treatment of employees.

Ultimately, the board and McKenna reached a compromise in which McKenna would step down as president by fall 2017 in exchange for several concessions from the board, including new bylaws and the departure of board chairman Andrew C. Meyer Jr. when his term expired in May.

Two months after Meyer left, the trustees fired McKenna anyway, under the leadership of new board chairman Robert Lamb. The move came after the trustees reviewed the results of an outside investigation into McKenna’s behavior commissioned by the board earlier in the year.

Lamb, who did not respond Monday to a request for comment, told the Globe in July the report found no evidence of financial mismanagement but said trustees still felt it was in the best interest of the university for McKenna to leave.

McKenna, in July, said the trustees told her she was fired for three reasons: providing a letter from the faculty senate to the school’s accrediting agency, offering inadequate communication to the board about accreditors, and participating in a meeting with Globe reporters and editors.


McKenna was Suffolk’s fifth president in five years, including interims. The university has seen an uncommon amount of turnover since longtime president David Sargent left in 2010.

Laura Krantz can be reached at laura.krantz@globe.com.